Asia in 2016: Thailand

Asia in 2016: ThailandThailand, under military rule since 2014, made little progress towards democracy during 2016. In August, a clear majority of voters – more than 60 percent supported a military-backed draft constitution in a national referendum. Turnout was estimated at no more than 55 percent, although authorities did not issue an official figure. An army-appointed committee wrote…

Revisiting US Policy toward Post-Coup Thailand

Revisiting US Policy toward Post-Coup ThailandAt a time when US relations with most countries in Southeast Asia are warming, the United States’ ties with its oldest partner in the region are a critical outlier. Thailand-US relations have been in a deep freeze for the past 13 months since Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha ousted an elected civilian government following six months of…

Opinion: Time for Thai Royals to Face Reality

Opinion: Time for Thai Royals to Face RealityI have often asked myself why Thai royalists are so blindsided, so irrational and so acrimonious whenever anyone with a free-spirit questions the high-flying status of the royals or the vast sums of taxpayer money that goes to support them each year. Thai authorities and royalists simply refuse to listen to reason and logic. It…

Thai ‘Reform,’ 1984 Style

Thai ‘Reform,’ 1984 StyleJust as the dictatorship in George Orwell’s book “1984” claimed that "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength," the Thai junta is claiming that a military dictatorship that destroyed democracy is “kicking off a process of political reform.” Let us be clear about this. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of the junta, ordered…

Thailand’s Political Prisoners

Thailand’s Political PrisonersSomyot Pruksakasemsuk is a journalist in prison. He is a prisoner of conscience. He was convicted of publishing two articles in an anti-establishment magazine that made negative references to the crown. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been in prison since his initial arrest on April 30,2011. He has always been…

Murder of a Thai Poet

Murder of a Thai Poet“Maineng Kor Khuntee” or Kamol Duangpasuk was a radical Red Shirt poet who wrote for a weekly Thai-language magazine. He was gunned down Wednesday in cold blood by assassins as he left a Bangkok restaurant.  He died later in hospital. Mai-Nueng opposed the military coup in 2006 and had been active in the pro-democracy Red Shirt…